Chief executive warns of delay to appointing bidders as he sets out aim to simplify arrangement with TfL and transport department

The chief executive of Crossrail is to institute a major restructuring of the governance of the project to simplify its sponsorship structure.

Rob Holden said governance “was the most complicated you can imagine” and that one of his aims in the next few weeks was “to work with the sponsors to simplify the governance arrangements".

The Crossrail company has been owned by Transport for London since 2008, having originally been set up jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) in 2001. However, the project itself is still officially jointly sponsored, with both organisations having appointees on the board. Its relations with the DfT are governed by both a formal funding agreement and a project development agreement, whilst TfL has a separate shareholder agreement.

In addition the £15.9bn maximum budget is drawn from a whole range of different organisations, including the city of London, Canary Wharf Group, Network Rail, BAA and Berkeley Homes. The project as a whole is subject to the Treasury's Major Projects Review Group, from which it still has to get further sign-off.

Holden said: “One of Crossrail's values is simplicity. Things are just too complex at the moment.” He declined to go into further detail as to how the new arrangements would work.

However he also said that the project's current sponsors TfL and DfT suffered from a clash of cultures. He said: “We've got to bring them together in the next few weeks to make sure they trust one another. Anyone delivering major projects knows that is absolutely key.”

Holden also confirmed that the awarding of the first two major contracts for tunnelling works would be delayed by a few months while Crossrail finalised the details of the tenders. Five joint ventures pre-qualified for the two packages in December, each thought to be worth over £1bn, but nothing more has been heard from Crossrail since.

Holden said the original schedule of appointing bidders in mid-summer was “looking more like the autumn now.” Asked why the delay, Holden said: “There is a huge volume of activity going on, but we just need to make sure we get things right now up front.”

Crossrail has also submitted its second planning application for the Paddington Integrated Project to Westminster City Council. This covers the preliminary works at the station, including the construction of a new taxi ramp, as well as a new entrance for the Hammersmith and City Line.

Carillion has won the contract to carry out preliminary works at the station under Crossrail's early works civils framework. This will include includes site facilities, piling and groundworks at the station, readying it for the main works.

Bidders for the tunnelling works included a joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, and Vinci; a joint venture comprising Bam Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier, a joint venture comprising Costain, Skanska Bilfinger Berger Civil; a joint venture comprising Dragados and John Sisk & Son (Holdings); and a joint venture comprising Laing O'Rourke and Bouygues